Is this the season of the Witch? Chris speck's Out!!
German Metal God's 'Grave Digger' return with their new stunning album one of their best album in some time titled 'Return of the Reaper', released through Napalm Records. This albums sees the band stripping back to basics and delivering a powerful hard hitting in you're face 80's style metal album. Since the early 80's the band have carried on with delivering quality Heavy Metal album's that is full of energy and head banging delights from start to finish. I managed to chat with front man Chris Boltendahl about the new album and the future of the band, just how long can a band like this continue. Here is what Chris had to say, in the meantime check out this album it's fucking heavy, but still a REAL METAL album indeed.
As this is the 3rd interview we have done now Chris, could you tell me how successful 'Clash of the Gods' was for the band?
"That album did OK for the band, it was some kind of success for us but you cannot compare it to the success of the new album. After 2 wks of it's release I can say that it more of a success than the previous one. After the release of the last album we did a lot of touring which was a lot of fun. (Ed: I have noticed that you really don't play the UK, is there a market for the band over here?) Well at 1st we have to find a promoter willing to give the band a chance in the UK and at that moment we didn't have any offers to play over there, but never say never and let's see what the next year will bring for the band. We did play in Wales last year at a festival and it wasn't such a band experience and we played after Sebastian Bach and we had a long delay after that which was not our fault and we played to about 50 people which was really bad and we played about 1.15am and we only played for about 25 minutes out of 60 minutes curfew. We were on the road for 3 days traveling down to that show (laughing) & we only played 25 minute set."
I know Chris that you are into Celtic history with Scotland, did you travel there after the festival in Wales just for a holiday?
"No we didn't, we could never find anywhere to play in Scotland either and no I didn't go there for a holiday, I just went straight back home it was right near Christmas."
OK Chris what is happening with you're old company 'Flying Dolphin', is it still active?
"It is still going, my other colleague is doing it. I was pissed with the business so I decided to get out of it. I only do Grave Digger management now and been in the band is a enough for now. I have a booking company and the rest I am doing by myself. It is good work and it is fun and I can see the success very quickly within the band doing this work."
Is Grave Digger doing any festivals this year? If so which ones?
"Well we have done a lot of festivals so far this year, and later on we play in Russia, Greece, Bulgaria and in November we play in Germany and some parts of Europe. We played 'Bang Your Head' festival this year which was great, we played the opening night 'The warm up show'. The we played the 'Metal Fest' in June and one festival in Spain. We play Waken and Summer Breeze too."
Have you been approached to play Bloodstock again for next year?
"Yeah maybe we will play next year, but right now it is too early to say."
What parts of the world have you not toured in yet that you would love to play in?
"I think some parts in Russia would be nice, also China. (Ed: Do you have a big market out there in those countries?). Yes we do so we would like to visit there and see how they react to us live."
Let's now talk about the new album, 'Return of the Reaper', is the artwork still done by the same artist?
"Yes the artwork is still done by the same artist who's name is Gyula Havancsak who is from Hungry and he is very talented guy and we have been working with him since 'The last Supper' album. I give him some ideas and we have been working on the new album cover for about 6-7 months on the ideas constantly we are working on that. We only had 1 idea and we followed it through to the end which we are very pleased with the overall results."
How long did it take to do the artwork and was it done with computer graphics?
"Well the artwork was done by both, artwork and computer graphics.
Who produced the new album? Are you happy with the end results of the album?
"Well it was Axel and myself who produced it with engineer Jorg Umbreit at Principle Studios, and is is always the same. Yes we are happy with the way the album turned out, and I think it is the best sounding album so far and I am completely happy with the songs on the album."
How long did it take to record this album?
"Well it took only 3 wks to record and 6 wks to find the right mix for the album."
When it comes to writing the music and lyrics is it a complete band thing or just you or Alex get involved in the writing process?
"Well Jason, nobody is involved with the writing only myself. The lyrics are something's that I have in my mind and I must write it down when it comes to my mind and this time it is some horror stories , some sarcastic and nothing really special and I sing what is going through my mind. (Ed: I remember you telling me last time that you are very much interested in the Celtic scene... does this still interest you?). Yes I am very much interested in that, but this time I am going to leave it alone for now and I think we will stop with the idea of concept albums for a while. Not working with a concept idea this time around has given us the freedom of writing songs and the lyrics and we have enjoyed it recently doing this. I think we will carry on this way as it is really funny writing songs about the reaper, because the reaper is some kind of cliché, and I also like to write cliché lyrics too, that is what I was like as a young guy and at 52yrs old I still enjoy writing those lyrics. Alex and Jens write all the music and guitar riffs and they work well together and I do the lyrics."
On the new album Chris which songs do you enjoy the most if you had to pick any?
"Well the songs I like are 'Reason of the Witch', (Ed: That's a killer song, love the 80's guitar riffs it's awesome!!) 'Tattooed Rider' (Ed: that has a certain Judas Priest's 'Turbo Lover' feel to it right.?) Yeah I guess you could say that in a way. When it comes to getting the set list together for the next tour it is becoming harder every time to pick songs, because I love every song. I love the whole album to be honest."
Talking of the title of the new album, who came up with the title for the album? Did you have any other titles in mind?
"Well it was my idea for the title, what I had in mind was not to have this album compared to that of the original Reaper album, like some journalists have done. For me I wanted to return the reaper and make it the trade mark of the band again with short Heavy Metal songs without a concept or having to think about what we are doing. There are different parts on this album but in the end it is always Grave Digger. So what we are saying is 'Hi guys we are back to basics playing real 80's metal, love or hate!!"
Will the band be doing a promotional video for this album? If so which song?
"Yes we have already done a video for the song 'Hell Funeral', the 1st song on the album. The concept behind the video is fire, fire, fire (laughing). It is on You Tube and it features the reaper, you should check it out!!"
Moving on when will the next live Grave Digger DVD be released?
"Well there are some shows and we will be doing another video and I had a meeting today about making a video for the song 'Tattooed Rider', it could be a movie with lots of bikers and hot ladies in it. (Ed: Is is going to be a Manowar style video?) Yeah something like that (laughing) and everything we do is made with smiles on our face but we are not serious like Manowar are. We are thinking about releasing a live DVD for the next tour it will be 35yrs anniversary next year. At the moment we are working hard on promotion for this album with interviews etc... and if we have more time by the end of the year we will think about doing a live DVD."
How long do you think the band will last in their career?
"We have decided to release yet another 7 albums and if everybody stays healthy in the band we will do 7 albums then retire. (Ed: Will the last album be called 'The Last Pensioners', as appose to 'The Last Supper' 'Laughing'.) Yes something like that, (laughing), Zimmer frames, wheel chairs..." I will be 65 when I retire.
OK moving on how are things with you and you're label 'Napalm Records', do you have a good relationship? You have had a few labels in your past like Noise, G.U.N. etc...
"Yes we are very pleased with our label, they are doing a great job and we have reached the highest chart in Germany placed at #16 and this is the best within the last 34 yrs. There is no point in leaving the label we are totally happy with them."
Well Chris thank you for doing the interview, do you have anything to say before we finish? Best of luck with the new album and I hope we meet again soon. Stay METAL!!!!
"Yes thank you for the interview Jason, it's nice speaking to you again. Good luck with the webzine. To the fans please check out the album it's one of our best album we have recorded. Come and see us live when we tour and keep supporting Real Metal music!!!"
Thank's to Napalm Records & Mr T & Chris from the band for the interview.